- Kei car
Kei car, K-car, or ( /keːdʑidoːɕa/), is a Japanese category of small
automobiles, including passenger cars, vans (" microvans") and pickup trucks (" Kei trucks"), or known as Keitora for both the van and truck. They are designed to exploit local taxand insurancerelaxations, and in more rural areas are exempted from the requirement to certify that adequate parkingis available for the vehicle. [http://www.jama-english.jp/europe/news/2005/jan-feb/peternunn.html "Minicars: Cheap and Cheerful"] , Peter Nunn, JAMA, January-February 2005]
[http://www.sendaiedu.com/owningacar.html "Owning a Car in Japan"] , ALTs in Sendai] These standards originated in the times following the end of the
Second World War, when most Japanese could not afford a full-sized car yet had enough to buy a motorcycle. To promote the growth of the car industry, as well as to offer an alternative delivery method to small business and shop owners, kei car standards were created.
The cars feature yellow licence plates, earning them the name "yellow-plate cars" (black numbers on yellow background for private use and yellow numbers on black background for commercial use) in English and Spanish-speaking circles. [http://www.jetsetjapan.com/infozone-trans-auto.shtml Automobiles] , jetsetjapan.com] [http://www.city.obihiro.hokkaido.jp/hp/data/page000004200/hpg000004177.htm "Shakoshomei 車庫証明(proof that you have a place to park your car)"] , "Driving in Tokachi", city.obihiro.hokkaido.jp] Because the regulations only restrict physical size, engine displacement and power, manufacturers have introduced many advanced technologies to the class. As a result, kei cars are often available with
forced inductionengines, automatic and CVT transmissions, front-, rear- and four-wheel drive, hybrid drivetrains, air conditioning, GPSand many other features.
Historical reasons aside, kei cars of today are generally quite fuel efficient due to their small displacement ≤660cc engines, and are valued commuter cars in Japan due to high gasoline prices exacerbated by steep gasoline taxes. The small size requirements of the cars is also a consideration in narrow streets and tight parking spaces in Tokyo, where nearly a third of Japan's population resides, as well as in other cities.
Daihatsu, Honda, Mitsubishi, Smart, [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/25/automobiles/25MICRO.html?ref=automobiles "Small Things in Good Packages"] , Jerry Garrett, " New York Times", November 25 2007] Subaru, and Suzukiall manufacture kei cars. Nissansells Mitsubishi and Suzuki models while Mazdasells Suzukimodels under licence badge engineering. [http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/News/articleId=106031 "Nissan Adds Third Minicar to its Lineup in Japan"] , Edmunds.com, June 6 2005] SuzukiWagon R has captured the top slot for the fifth straight year.The Wagon R was the best-selling keicar in Japan in the first six months of 2008. Including the Wagon R, 6 of the 10 best-selling models in Japan were keicar, an indication that fuel-efficient automobiles continued to be popular on the back of soaring fuel prices. [http://www.sgcarmart.com/news/article.php?AID=1346]
History of regulations
List of microcars by country of origin
* [http://www.zenkeijikyo.or.jp Official association] 全国軽自動車協会連合会 (Japanese)
* [http://www.xs4all.nl/~mjs/index.htm History of regulations]
* [http://www.automotiveworld.com/AEM/content.asp?contentid=17915 "The minicar and the emerging markets"] , Andrew Mollet, "Automotive World",
March 1 2003(subscription required)
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